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As Demand For COVID-19 Vaccinations Continues To Drop, 80 Counties Decline All Or Part Of Their Weekly Allocation

Vials of the Moderna vaccine sit in a cart at a Tama County vaccine clinic on Feb. 1.
Natalie Krebs
IPR File
Iowa health officials say they are reaching out to local leaders to figure out why demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is decreasing

State health officials have confirmed 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties declined all or part of their weekly COVID-19 vaccine allocation for next week, as demand for COVID-19 vaccinations continues to decline.

The new figures marks a rapid increase from previous weeks. On April 15, 43 counties declined their full allocation, and on April 8, when 21 counties declined part of all of their allocation.

Shelley Bickel, the administrator for the Wayne County Health Department, said she declined the county’s entire 100-dose allocation for the first time next week because demand has sharply decreased.

According to state data, less than half of Wayne County’s adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Bickel said she thinks the those who are not at high-risk for getting seriously ill from the virus aren't interested in getting the shot.

"I think part of the problem is the 18 to, probably, 50-year-olds," she said. "Those are probably the ones we're not getting it to like everybody else. They don't want it."

Bickel said a local pharmacy still has its vaccine doses from the county's allocation two weeks ago, and it's struggling to get rid of them.

"We were always busy," she said. "We were constantly busy, until, let's see, about about a week and a half ago."

State health officials said they’re working with local leaders to determine why there has been a decline in demand and what additional education is needed.

According to state data, around 55 percent of adult Iowans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday afternoon.

Experts say the goal is to vaccinate about 75 percent of the population to reach herd immunity.

"We are hopeful that lifting the pause of the J&J vaccine will also contribute to more vaccines being administered in the state, especially among individuals who prefer the convenience of a single dose," said Sarah Ekstrand, the spokesperson for the state health department, in an email.

"We want to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible while doing everything we can to avoid vaccines sitting on shelves."

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter